Massachusetts “Last Mile” Towns Celebrate a Major Fiber Broadband Milestone

Massachusetts “Last Mile” Towns Celebrate a Major Fiber Broadband Milestone

Governor Baker and Lt. Governor Polito of Massachusetts celebrated the completion of Make Ready work for the Last Mile Infrastructure Program with an event recognizing the utility companies, service providers, and construction contractors responsible for making lightspeed internet a reality. Sertex was proud to be a participant in this event, where all parties discussed how the group overcame challenges and obstacles during the make ready process.

Formed in February 2018 and led by Lt. Governor Polito, the Last Mile Make Ready Working Group achieved unprecedented coordination of the activities required to make space on utility poles in advance of the construction of broadband networks.

“As a result of the important work done by the entire Make Ready Group’s membership, who met weekly and more over the past four years, the last of the Commonwealth’s communities that still remain unserved by broadband are a major step closer becoming connected.”
- Governor Charlie Baker.

During round table discussions at the celebration event, Laurel Pepin from Sertex talked about challenges that faced the company’s construction crews. In weekly meetings of the Make Ready Working Group, the Sertex team would highlight “show stoppers.” These are problems on poles that had to be solved before we the Sertex team could do any more work. The Working Group’s project management team would then set these obstacles as high priority, and push for a solution.

Once the project management team alerted Sertex crews that show stopper issues had been solved, the crews would get back out to those poles ASAP and complete aerial construction work.

Communications was another challenge mentioned by Pepin. In the hill towns, cellular dead zones prevented crews from communicating in real-time. To overcome this obstacle, Sertex worked with the FCC to secure long-range communication antennas that were mounted on trucks and equipment. This solution allowed Sertex to collaborate with the Eversource and Verizon crews working nearby, and helped us keep projects moving forward safely, on-time and on-budget.

Pepin also highlighted weather and geography as significant challenges. To keep things progressing through winter snows, spring mud season, and torrential rains, adaptations were made to our equipment. For example, chains on tires during snow and mud season allowed our trucks to navigate difficult areas so our crews could complete work. We also enlisted the help of transportation authorities to plow away snow and mud when we really needed an assist.

According to Michael Solitro, Sertex founder and CEO, “Sertex Broadband is proud to be a part of closing the digital divide in Central and Western Massachusetts. Over the last six years, our crews have crossed rivers, climbed mountains, and dragged cable through forests and woodlands in all kinds of weather to make lightspeed internet access a reality for more than 12,000 residents and businesses.”
Today, Sertex crews are just months away from completing the 108-mile fiber network in the Town of Becket. We’re looking forward to continuing to work with all the members of the Make Ready Working Group as we help close the digital divide in western Massachusetts.

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